Only minutes remained before she would lose everything on the ship. As her lifeboat dangled over the frigid Atlantic waters, she begged to sprint back to her cabin-room and grab one last item. The crewman allowed it, but gave her only three minutes to return.
Three small oranges. That’s all she wanted; that’s what she risked her life for. As the Titanic was sinking into icy waters, three small oranges became far more valuable than any amount of money, gold, or jewel. I am sure if you would have asked her the night before what she considered most valuable in life, she would have pointed at her fine wealth. Now faced with life-threatening disaster, her perspective on wealth had changed. What her eyes once considered priceless was now discovered not to be as valuable as first thought. What her eyes once considered worthless had now become a real treasure.
Can your eyes distinguish between what is worthless and what is truly valuable? Jesus says in our gospel reading: The eye is the lamp of the body. Your eyes take in light; they process what is happening all around you. Depending on what your eye perceives as valuable, You will find your treasure and You will serve it whole-heartedly. What your eyes consider priceless may not be as valuable as first thought. What your eyes consider worthless may carry more treasure than ever imagined. So, How Good are Your Eyes?
If your eyes are good, [then] your whole body will be full of light-- and Jesus is asking something more than just: “Do your eyes work?” “If your eyes are good,” he says, that is, if your eyes recognize what holds real value in this earthly life, then your whole body will be full of light. If you identify the one Treasure that will never wear out, then you will unlock real contentment. Most of all, you will have a clear vision on what you really need and what you aim/live for in life.
Yet, [i]f your eyes are bad, [then] your whole body will be full of darkness. Again, Jesus is not asking if your eyes are faulty or diseased or if you are blind. He literally says: “If your eye is evil,” that is, if your eye does not understand what is truly necessary in life, then your whole body will be full of darkness. If your eye considers storing up earthly treasures as life’s ultimate goal, then your life can become aimless; you will have never discover lasting satisfaction.
Eyes become bad when they see earthly treasures as life’s truest riches. It happens when you search for a secure future in your bank accounts. It happens when you buy big Black Friday gifts all to reap praise from your [grand]children. It happens when you look to your new car or big house to determine your status among friends.
Storing up earthly treasures never fills the heart with lasting contentment because earthly treasures change. Rust destroys the once-new car— and the car you once prided in, does not really seem all that important now. Your [grand]child’s changing age changes how they praise your gifts; you can never hold their affection with the same present for all their life. Bank accounts are emptied by hackers and scammers, by unexpected bills and poor choices. Placing your heart, your joy, on the things you own can toss you into spiritual darkness because they always change, because they go away, because they cannot bring the real security your heart craves.
Jesus makes that point clear: No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Money wants your entire heart. God wants your entire heart. So, if your eyes love Money, then you will not want to give any money in worship. If your eyes love the boats and the cars your money can buy, then you will make sure nothing interrupts your time with those things—be it your kids, your friends, or your God. Your priorities will shift; you will devote more time to getting more money—whether that means you work more hours or you stop paying for the needs of your household. In fact, anything that gets in the way of accomplishing this goal, you will hate— and that means despise. You will want nothing to do with God because he demands too much from you. Yes, you may still worship him, but your heart will not delight in him. You will no longer see him as a loving Provider, but rather as another Person with hand out, asking for what you own.
That is why it is important to ask yourself: How Good are Your Eyes? Because with your eyes, you will find your treasure. You will discover what your heart loves. The thing your heart loves most, there your treasure will be. What you consider a treasure, that will be the object you worship. The object you worship can toss you into eternal emptiness. What your eyes consider priceless may not be as valuable as first thought. What your eyes consider worthless may carry more treasure than ever imagined. So, How Good are Your Eyes?
It’s difficult, is it not? It’s difficult to love God with a single-minded heart. It gets frustrating when you want to love God, but instead find more coziness in your wealth. It gets irritating when you desire to serve God whole-heartedly, but again find yourself proud over your purchases. You may despair when once again, you realize your eyes still are not the “good” eyes God desires. Yet, having “good” eyes does not start with you; it’s Jesus who gives you good eyes.
During his 33 years on this earth, he [S]tored up […] treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, that is, Jesus’ eyes never consider earth to be life’s truest treasure, rather he sets his sights on opening heaven for you.
The Jews offer him a crown and throne, but Jesus willingly wears a crown of thorns and sits on a cross. People shout: “Rule us! Be our earthly King! Drive away our Roman overlords!” Yet, Jesus chooses instead to hear the people later shout: Crucify him! The poor, the sick, the helpless hold out their hands for money and for healing—and he not only gives these things, but strives to fill those hearts and bodies with his saving love. Your Jesus comes not to make earth into heaven, but rather to make heaven your new home. His heart is completely devoted to serving his God and Father—and he has placed that heart into your life.
Do your eyes see this? Look to the cross and see what money cannot buy: your freedom from hell. Set your sights on things above— literally looking up at the sky, if you must. Look up to the heavens and see the eternal inheritance that Jesus has won for you. Setting your eyes on Jesus means that your eyes will find your treasure. With your “good” eyes locked on Jesus, your treasure, you will serve your treasure whole-heartedly.
No longer will you feel this pull to find self-worth in what you own. No longer will you try to muster up ways to be grateful for what you have. With “good” eyes, your body will be full of light; you will delight every day not in what you have, but rather in the One who gave it to you.
Look at the many, many blessings you have in your life, but do not just stop and stare at what you have; consider how you got it. You have money because you have a job. You have a job because you have a talent. You have a talent because God blessed you with that talent. Remember, I cannot do everything you can; you cannot do everything I can. God has given us each special gifts and skills. With those talents, you are able to help others, serve others, and earn a living for yourself. Your earthly treasures come because of a God-given talent which lands you a job which gives you a paycheck.
And please remember, that you receive a paycheck because God blesses you with a government that manages the economy. The United States of America works to ensure you have a job. If the economy does well, you will have a job in (or near) your hometown. Having a job nearby gives you an opportunity to work. Having an opportunity to work means you get to earn money which means you can buy clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, land, cattle, and all you own, and all that you need to keep you body and life (Luther’s Explanation to the First Article). Tracing the path of your earthly blessings will lead you to the One who gave them to you in the first place.
More than that, tracing your earthly blessings back to God will fill you with joy every single day because you will delight in a loving God who never changes. The more your eyes focus on God the Giver, the more you live content knowing that God will always fill your life with everything you need— just has he has done and just as he still promises to do. No longer will you needlessly fret, asking: “Will I have enough?” Rather, you will bow your head in prayer and say, “Lord, give me my daily bread.” Like that young lady scrambling through the sinking Titanic, your perspective on wealth will change. The earthly wealth the world considers valuable pales in comparison to the immense wealth of calling God “your God.” Good eyes means You will serve your treasure whole-heartedly.
So, How Good are Your Eyes? Your eyes are good because Jesus has made them good. This Thanksgiving, focus your attention on Jesus, your Savior. See the priceless gift of forgiveness he freely hands to you. Look up at the heaven stored up for you— a heaven that never fades or perishes. God for you is the real reason you can give thanks. Setting your sights on Jesus fills you with lasting contentment. Why? Because your eyes have found your treasure! Your eyes lead you to serve it whole-heartedly!